Pictures and details to come, here's the short version for now. I use the basic recipe from eGullet's Confectionery 101, which is a great starting point on technique as well as a good, simple recipe. Personally, I find that rolling out and cutting caramel is a pretty big pain, so for a batch or two I much prefer silicone molds for pouring out individual caramels. Around a 1" size is great, 1.5" is getting to the point where you'd want to cut it in half, or put some pecans in for turtles, etc. Depending on the size/shape of the individual sections of your mold, you may need more or less sheets per batch, so having a backup plan or extras is recommended.

Thermometer-wise, I haven't found a good hanging/clip-on one that I love, so I tend to just use a Thermapen. There's lots of great, accurate scales to pick from for cheap. I splurged for a copper pot and I do like it, but you can get by fine without one - and they have limited use outside of confectionery since you can't (safely) cook anything acidic in them. A vinegar bath will help clean up any discolorations on the copper after use, if you do get one.

Caramel is great on its own but the sweetness does benefit from a counterpoint. Salt's a classic, but my personal favorite is to brew a little chai tea in the water and cream. Any strong black tea would do well, I use Stash's Chai Spice. I keep meaning to try coffee, but the tea is so good that it's my default.